At Astrea we are proud to work with a wide range of local and national specialist organisations that share our vision to improve the lives of the children within our schools and the communities we serve. We are passionate about providing our students with opportunities to help them achieve and aspire, and to giving them the tools they need to build happy, successful and fulfilling lives.  

Chapter and Verse

We are very grateful to Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and its Teacher Development Fund, for funding an exciting literacy programme, “Chapter and Verse,” which will be delivered in partnership with the literacy charity Grimm & Co.

Starting in 2021, the two-year project will enable children from 10 Astrea primaries in South Yorkshire to take part in a magical, immersive creative writing experience in their schools. The children will develop their confidence, wellbeing and skills through drama, music, poetry, and storytelling. In addition, the programme will support teachers across all the schools to develop the skills, confidence and experience to embed learning through the arts.

Parent Portal

At a time when families are under unprecedented pressure because of the coronavirus pandemic, a grant from the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS) has enabled Astrea to develop a Parent Portal to provide on-demand access to expert-led webinars and guides on a range of children’s health and wellbeing topics.

A mix of live streamed events or pre-recorded sessions, the webinars and guides will be delivered by in-house specialists and guest experts – for example, educational psychologists, youth counsellors, trauma professionals, dieticians and nutritionists. Monthly virtual drop-ins, hosted by Astrea’s in-house Inclusion Team, will give parents an opportunity to raise, and get help with, their individual concerns. Information about the portal and events will be shared through the schools’ parent apps and newsletters.

Looked After children and trauma informed specialist training

A grant of over £40,000 from the British and Foreign Schools has enabled a specialist programme of support for Looked After Children to be launched at Hatfield Primary Academy, Sheffield, in 2021, before a wider roll-out across Astrea Academy Trust’s family of 27 schools in Cambridgeshire and South Yorkshire. The grant will fund expert training and the development of a new tailored curriculum to better support Looked After Children – amongst the most vulnerable in the Trust’s care.

Through the grant, the group Trauma-Informed Schools UK will be providing specialist training to the Trust’s front-line staff, to give them the insight, skills and techniques to support pupils who have experienced trauma and challenge. ‘Lead practioners’ will be selected to promote a Trust-wide approach to caring for Looked After Children, forming an expert hub to cascade learning and share best practice with other schools. They will also oversee a review of the curriculum, recommending changes designed to educate all pupils on the experience of childhood trauma, thereby encouraging more supportive peer relationships, tolerance and resilience.

“Move on up”

We are grateful to the Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation, for a grant of over £57,000 which is enabling Astrea academies at Dearne, Netherwood and Woodfields to launch a new ‘Move On Up’ scheme to support new year 7 pupils next year.

Older pupils at each of the academies will be recruited as ‘Move On Up Buddies’ to provide advice, support and guidance to younger peers while still at primary school – and continue to play an active role in their pastoral care when they join in September.

Twenty year 9 buddies will be recruited at each school, following a thorough application process. They will take responsibility for a new ‘buddy room’ at each school – a safe and welcoming environment where incoming year 7s can go for support and to relax at lunch and break times. Informal and inclusive activities, such board games, will provide a gentle backdrop for buddies to encourage conversations – and to identify, and provide support for, any emerging issues. Buddies will be given Mental Health Awareness training to help them develop skills in listening and how to spot issues – which they can signpost at group and one-to-one supervision sessions with a trained counsellor, or to a teacher at any time.

Pupil feedback has shown that transition to secondary school typically focuses on processes and procedures, with less attention given to emotional welfare. Those with older siblings tend to feel more confident, having an experienced voice and friendly face to fall back on in those early months. The new Move On Up scheme seeks to replicate that ‘sibling’ figure for all pupils – making the step up to secondary positive and happy and buddies are just as likely to gain from the experience – learning new skills, and demonstrating their leadership and commitment to their school.

School Governor Champions

Astrea Academy Trust is working in partnership with Inspiring Governance to promote and strengthen governance in schools and was the first multi-academy trust in the country to sign the School Governor Champion Charter. Through this we support the Educators on Board campaign and work to actively encourage and support our own education professionals to join the governing boards or committees of different schools.

Home Literacy Project

Astrea Academy Trust launches ambitious home literacy project to boost reading and writing learning for children before they start school. Thanks to a grant of over £100,000 from SHINE.

The grant will initially enable eight new nursery starters from four schools to receive extra literacy support during their first year. Specialist early years practitioners will work alongside families in their homes to give support with reading and writing. Then, after the initial pilot, the programme will be rolled out to a further ten Astrea primary schools over the following two years.

Evidence suggests that working with families in their homes has many positive effects. It raises children’s attainment; increases parents’ knowledge about learning and literacy; and strengthens home-to-school relationships. During four home visits, children and their parents will engage in every-day family literacy activities such as writing shopping lists, sharing books and singing nursery rhymes together. The project aims to increase the children’s enjoyment of books and engagement in mark-making, leading to higher literacy skills when they start Reception next year.

Dr Helen Rafferty, Interim CEO, SHINE, said: “SHINE are delighted to be supporting the development of this critically important work with children and families in South Yorkshire. Supporting families at home will benefit children’s literacy for years to come, and we’re excited to learn about the expansion of this programme over the course of our partnership.”

Sport England Secondary teacher training programme

Sport England has awarded a  grant to enable five Astrea Schools to upskill and mentor teachers, to improve the quality and breadth of a school’s PE offer so that it acts as a catalyst for wider outcomes such as improved mental wellbeing, resilience, pupil engagement and confidence. Through this funding students will experience a greater breadth of sport and physical activity at school with an improved confidence in teachers from schools across the alliance to encourage children and young people to be physically active.
If you or your organisation share our ambition, and would like to find out more about how we could work together to improve the lives of children, please contact Fran Lightfoot, Head of Fundraising and Partnerships  to discuss.